Ann Pearlman of Ann Arbor, Mich., has been part of a local holiday cookie exchange group for the past nine years. Then she discovered there’s more to cookies than just the sum of their ingredients.
In addition to butter, sugar and eggs, there might be love, betrayal and infidelity. Pearlman took 12 of her favorite holiday cookie recipes, built characters and a story around each one, and baked herself a book called The Christmas Cookie Club: A Novel. It’s not her first book. The psychotherapist and author, who’s 67, has written about a wide variety of subjects such as Los Angeles street gangs and marital strife—her book ‘Infidelity: A Love Story’ was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
The characters in Pearlman’s fictional cookie club do not precisely resemble those in her real-life group, she says. And for the most part, they probably wouldn’t want to. One character, for example, finds out her best friend is having an affair with her father. On the other hand, Pearlman stresses that the novel is really about the companionship, love and support the women in the group give to one another—and that does mirror her real-life club, she explains.
Each year her cookie club donates 12 dozen cookies to a local charity. The last couple years it was Hospice, before that, a local Safe House. Pearlman is especially proud of that simple-but-noble gesture, and made it part of her novel, as well.
Pearlman told Debbi Snook of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that she’s been amazed by the amount of ‘cookie-centric’ traffic on her Facebook page (facebook.com, search for Ann Pearlman), with both recipes and stories to go with. She didn’t realize there were so many cookie exchange groups across the country.
Now she’s working on a sequel with Marybeth Bayer, who started the real-life cookie club that inspired Pearlman to write the first novel. The new book will also include some 40 recipes.
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